2019 AFC West Preview

1. Kansas City Chiefs– We all had a front-row seat to the Patrick Mahomes experience. The Chiefs had one of the best seasons in recent memory. They won the AFC West again for the third straight season, they clinched the top seed in the AFC and hosted their first-ever AFC title game at Arrowhead. In his first season as a starter, Mahomes threw 50 touchdown passes becoming the third quarterback ever to accomplish that joining Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (that’s an impressive group to join). As good as the Chiefs were offensively, what hurt them in the end was their defense. They could never get off the field and they gave up a lot of big plays. They fell short in the AFC title game against New England. I think Mahomes will be good again, but I don’t see him throwing 50 touchdown passes in a season again this year because teams will have tape on the MVP.

2. Los Angeles Chargers– After ending the 2017 season on a high note, 2018 was kind to them. It was one of their best seasons in recent memory. Philip Rivers had the best season of his career and was an MVP candidate to some. Their offense was potent with moving the football down the field. They also played defense. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2013 but fell short to the eventual Super Bowl champions because they decided to play a zone coverage on Tom Brady. The Chargers could have one of the best defensive lines in football this year. They have two studs on the edges in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and they drafted Jerry Tillery from Notre Dame. Derwin James is back after putting together a stellar rookie year.

3. Denver Broncos– From 2012 to 2015, the Broncos ran this division. Since 2016, it’s been a struggle for them. They get off to quick starts and after the midway point, they struggle. Everything is there for this team to succeed once again. They run the ball, the defense isn’t as strong as they were in 2015, but they’re still serviceable, but it’s the quarterback that’s kept them back. Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler (again) and Case Keenum simply haven’t cut it. In the off-season, the Broncos made a deal with the Baltimore Ravens to acquire Joe Flacco which I thought was a good move because it gives them a guy with experience. This defense will always be mentioned if Von Miller is there. His impact is something, isn’t it? Vic Fangio was hired to be the Broncos new head coach. I’m excited that he’s finally getting an opportunity to lead a team.

4. Oakland Raiders– They were a playoff team just a few years back. It looked as if they were getting back to being relevant once again. Now, they’re a mess. What’s next under the Jon Gruden regime? The Raiders made one of the bigger moves in the off-season when they acquired Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers which gives Derek Carr a solid number one weapon. I still think this team is a few years away from getting back to the playoffs. They shocked me in the draft when they decided to select Clellin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in the first round. I’m not knocking the guy, but there were better potential options sitting there. This will be interesting.

2019 Predictions

1. Chiefs (11-5)

2. Chargers (10-6)

3. Broncos (8-8)

4. Raiders (3-13)

The Chiefs will win the AFC West for the fourth straight season. Mahomes may not be as strong as he was last season, but I still expect him to be productive, nonetheless. Kelce is back, they began to run the ball better in the playoffs and depending what happens with Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman could be a huge part of this Chiefs offense this year. The defense must get better if they want to be taken more seriously. A productive defense will take the pressure off the offense.